Ask the average, reasonably educated person what comes to mind when he or she hears the word “fascism” and the immediate responses are “dictatorship,” “genocide,” “anti-Semitism,” “racism,” and “right-wing,” Delve a bit deeper—and move a bit further to the left—and you’ll hear a lot about “eugenics”, “social Darwinism,” “militarism,” and “nationalism.”
WHAT IS FASCISM?
The term fascism typically causes a knee-jerk reaction as something evil and “less than desirable.” We almost immediately think of Nazism; our minds go to Hitler and Mussolini. We consider totalitarianism a synonym of fascism. Totalitarianism relates to a government where the ruler or ruling group has complete control or authority over everyone; completely autocratic, authoritarian, or dictatorial. A totalitarian government gives no room for political parties. Totalitarianism has become a catchall for brutal, soul-killing, Orwellian regimes. But that’s not how the word was originally used or intended. Interestingly, Mussolini himself coined the term to describe a society where everybody belonged; where everyone was taken care of; where everything was inside the state and nothing was outside; where truly no child was left behind.
It has been suggested that true American liberalism is a totalitarian religion, though not necessarily an Orwellian one. It is nice, not brutish. It is nannying, not bullying. But it is definitely totalitarian—”holistic” if you prefer. In other words, today’s liberal politics sees no realm of human life that is beyond political significance, from what we eat and drink (consider New York City’s attempt to outlaw so-called “big gulp” sugary drinks in 2013), to what we smoke, what we say, how we have sex, who we have sex with, how we dress, whether we can say “Merry Christmas,” toys offered to children in fast food meals (used to enhance kids to eat unhealthy food), all-male sports, guns, religion, and gender-based pronouns. Liberals prefer to place their faith in “priestly” experts who “know better,” and who tend to badger and scold. They use science to discredit traditional notions of religion and faith, but speak the language of pluralism and spirituality to defend “nontraditional” beliefs.
WHAT IS LIBERAL FASCISM?
First, let me say there is no definition of “liberal fascism” that is agreed upon between the parties in America today. Jon Bergeron (2015) says, “Far too often socialism and communism are compared to what is currently the political embodiment of the modern leftist ideology in the U.S. These leftist and communist ideas include anti-capitalism, total destruction of the individual in favor of the state, and big government takeover. We have all heard this stereotype. However, I think there is a far more accurate political ideology floating in the minds of modern leftists, thirsty for revolution to take down ‘the man’ and change the ‘bourgeois system.’ I am speaking of fascism.” Bergeron says typically the masses believe Fascism is reserved only for evil white conservative men who spout evil fascist rhetoric like small government, individualism, self-reliance, capitalism, less dependency on government, traditionalism, and self-responsibility with strong ties to self-sustaining autonomous Christian family units.
That’s because America has bought into the Orwellian leftist language and indoctrination that fascism is of the evil American Right; however, closer examination reveals startling comparisons to the modern American left. Fascism could not be any further from the American conservative! Very few realize that fascism by its very nature was an extremely leftist populist movement taking root in Mussolini’s Italy and spreading like wild fire throughout Europe. Fascism was born out of socialism (the prized ideology among the left) and was an evolved state-centric version of socialism which became popular around the early to mid 1900s. It was “new” and full of revolutionary change.
With fascism, as with all large bloated governments that leftists think can cure all our qualms, the utopian lie is propagated by the state which supposedly aims to build a communal National Socialism state-sponsored family. Fascism was to transcend class differences exactly like socialism preached. Mussolini’s Fascist Party advocated the abolition of the senate and the creation of a national technical council on intellectual and manual labor, industry, commerce and culture; the creation of various government bodies run by worker’s representatives; and the obligation of the state to build rigidly secular schools for the raising of the proletariat’s moral and cultural condition. This all seems hauntingly similar to the modern American leftist’s ideal America. Their rhetoric is far closer to Fascism than the Republican Party’s strong stress on individualism, capitalism, individual responsibility, and reduced government intervention. Remarkably, it also flies in the face of John F. Kennedy’s stanch command, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Liberal fascism is fond of preaching about the need for an all-powerful state to coordinate society at the national or, worse yet, global level. Most of all, they share the belief that with the “right amount of adjustment” we can finally realize the utopian dream of creating a better world here on earth. In other words, why wait for the Christian promise of heaven on earth when the Messiah returns? Let’s make our heaven here and now with just a little tweaking and a little legislating. In America, where hostility to big government still remains central to the national character, the case for statism must be made by the liberals against a backdrop of “pragmatism,” fairness, and decency. In other words, liberal fascism must be nice; it must be for our own good.
“I call my philosophy and approach ‘compassionate conservatism.’ It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and results. And with this hopeful approach, we will make a real difference in people’s lives.” —George W. Bush
How do today’s liberals respond to the compassionate conservatism of the likes of George W. Bush? They use a secularized vocabulary of “hope,” constructing quasi-spiritual philosophies like Hillary Clinton’s “politics of meaning.” Hillary’s new spirituality comes complete with persuasive albeit false teachers. She felt no constraints as she sought out religious components to mesh with or compliment her socialist one-world globalist worldview; something she’d begun quietly embracing several decades earlier.
Does being obsessed on a community or national level about health, nutrition, and the environment make you a fascist? It’s a funny and strange question, I know. Thankfully, the answer is Of course not! The notion seems to be that fascism stems from holding in high regard the interest of the public good—illnesses, cost of health care, availability and affordability of health insurance—but it does so at the cost of the individual. Fascism says the individual has no right not to be healthy. Accordingly, the state has the right and the obligation to force us to be healthy, whatever it takes. To the extent that modern health movements seek to harness the power of the state in order to promote their agenda, they unfortunately flirt with classical fascism. Environmentalism is another area where the state is willing to bully us into complying in the interest of “making the planet a better place to live.” What makes this bullying palatable is the extent to which the state will go to apply shame, guilt and logic to force our hand.
For example, legislators have been hard at work making it illegal to smoke in your own car, or even outdoors, if other people could conceivable be near you and exposed to second-hand smoke. Free speech, too, is under relentless attack where it matters most—relative to elections. Alexis de Tocqueville (1994) wrote in Democracy in America, “It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life… I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones” (p. 320).
Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the “problem” and therefore defined as the enemy. Contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.
Why are today’s liberals unwilling to acknowledge the intellectual history of their political philosophy? Liberalism stands on the shoulders of giants from the initial Progressive Era. This is made obvious by their tendency to use the word “progressive” whenever talking about their liberal core convictions. They consistently claim it is conservatives who have their roots in fascism. Of course, you won’t see liberals today running around shouting from the rooftops that they intend to conquer the world by force of arms. They show no signs of being part of a nationalist or eugenics movement. Instead, they speak of having the best of intentions when it comes to society. Whether this is true or not is not necessarily clear.
THE ORIGINAL PROGRESSIVE ERA (1890-1920)
Progressivism is the term applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems seemingly caused by rapid industrialization introduced to America. Those who agreed with this concept wanted to stop child labor and put major regulations on big business.The major goals of the Progressives were to promote the ides of morality, economic reform, efficiency and social welfare. Progressivism began as a social movement and grew into a political movement. The early Progressives rejected Social Darwinism. Rather, they believed that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing a good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated, and believed that government could be a tool for change. Progressives concentrated on exposing the evils of corporate greed, combating the fear of immigrants, and urging Americans to think hard about what democracy really means.
Progressivism was the reform movement that ran from the late 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century, during which leading intellectuals and social reformers in the United States sought to address the economic, political, and cultural questions that had arisen in the context of the rapid changes brought with the Industrial Revolution and the growth of modern capitalism in America.
On a national level, Progressivism gained a strong voice in the White House when Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901. Roosevelt believed that strong corporations were good for America, but he also believed that corporate behavior must be watched to ensure that corporate greed did not get out of hand. He felt this must be accomplished through government regulations for trust-busting and other activities of corporate greed. Progressivism ended with World War I when the horrors of war exposed people’s cruelty.
Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle (1906) caused Roosevelt to push Congress to pass numerous reforms like the Meat Inspection Act , the Pure Food Act, and the Drug Act. He also helped invest the Interstate Commerce Act with new powers, and created the new Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903. This new agency was empowered with the ability to investigate corporations. Roosevelt also set aside over 50 wildlife sanctuaries and parks that are still in use today. Roosevelt built the Panama Canal, which made trade with other countries much easier.
Many Americans bought into President Woodrow Wilson’s progressive claims that the war would make the world safe for democracy.
DOES PROGRESSIVISM HAVE A PLACE IN AMERICA TODAY?
The push for a progressive takeover of Congress began long before Trump won office. One audacious plan began to take hold in early 2016, as a crew of organizers for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign traveled the country, staging revival-style rallies. In fact, when watching video of Sanders’ rallies, I had the sense I was watching the sermons of a hybrid preacher/politician/prophet. Members of Congress and the Justice Department are just two elements in a movement where different groups with different agendas jostle for donations and influence in the 2020 presidential election.
Some, like Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, were in place years before the Sanders campaign. California billionaire Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ largest donor, has spent millions of his own money on NextGen America, a group that aims to mobilize young voters. He is pulling out all stops to register first-time teenage voters as liberals. This hedge-fund-manager-turned-activist vows to build the largest progressive operation in America. And he has the money to at least try to pull it off.
History has shown that in virtually all extreme leftist movements, be it communism, Nazism, socialism, or Fascism, murder, violence, and censorship are often used to push the party agenda. Does this sound absurd? The Southern Democrats, avid supporters of slavery, stopped at nothing to frighten Blacks into servitude, pushing those who transgressed (or tried to leave the plantation) into compliance, take Black women for themselves, keep Blacks beholden to their “masters” for their very sustenance, and to discourage and punish Republicans and freethinking Democrats who dared vote to grant freedom or, indeed, any rights, to Blacks. The intimidation was horrendous, evil, violent, constant, inhumane, unthinkable, and absolutely unbelievable.
This historic pattern is cyclical. To the extent that outright public lynching, stonings, murder, and violence are unlikely today, nevertheless, extreme leftists are quite adept at countless other discriminatory, persecutory, New Jim Crow methods of keeping minorities down. And that’s just their behavior toward those they deem less-than-human or not their equal. Beyond that, many recent events (Charlottesville, VA) show us that anyone who rises up in support of conservative values can fall victim—directly or indirectly—to the violence of the Progressive Movement. I can think of two brilliant mantras that warn us relative to history. First, we are told that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Second, George Orwell expressed in 1984, “He who controls the past controls the future.” In other words, if the government is capable of editing, rewriting or erasing history in order to present a sanitized picture of what occurred, then the future is whatever the government creates it to be.
Toward what do the Progressives of today believe they are progressing? The chances are more than good that they have no idea. Somehow “progress” means greater equality, greater understanding, greater tolerance, greater peace, and greater evolution. Somehow. But it’s never entirely clear how. In almost every sense, modern Progressives mean that anything they deem good is progressive while all else is not just wrong but evil. Is there an actual end to the progress of Progressives? Is there a threshold of equality that must be crossed, one that would at least allow us to claim victory? Is there some utopia just around the corner, achievable in some viable way?
Just as the Progressives of today have no real sense of where their progress might or should lead, they have even less sense of their origins. And to the extent that any of them do know, they don’t want us to know. But is everything the Progressive Movement stands for bad for America. Likely, no. Perhaps it is the manner in which they want to cram these many changes down our throats that’s wrong. What is the endgame, anyway? Do the leftists want to help you and I achieve our every want and desire (something that is no doubt seated deep in our will, mind and emotion) at the expense of our mind and our spirit? Do they want us to want our desires (which they have now determined for us to be additional unalienable rights) to the extent that we’ll become beholden to the state in order to have these desires met? And do they now want to tell us want we want and what we should want? Does big government want to become our sugar daddy?
Nothing has been more devastating and dangerous politically in the 20th and 21st century than leftist thought. If we look at 20th century communism alone we see that an alarming 85 to 100 million worldwide have perished under leftist regimes. These governments have also been guilty of censorship, labor and internment camps, blanket violation of civil liberties, mass incarceration of so-called “undesirables,” blockade of international humanitarian aid, refusal of scrutiny of their human rights violations, suppression of free expression of religion (especially Christianity), and many other forms of oppression. We’ve already seen a systematic attack of Christianity in America. Progressives do not want alternatives to the Big Bang, Darwinism, humanism, big government as our “father,” and other questions about the origin and meaning of life being preached or taught. Militant atheists are fond of explaining that Christian parents cramming their “religion” down the throats of their children is nothing less than indoctrination and a form of child abuse.
The atmosphere of intolerance, censorship, and incipient violence created by both the thuggish hard left and the ideologically preening elite left will have dire results for everyone. It’s inevitable. It undermines support on the left and right alike for free expression and a minimum of interference—by coercive government or coercive mobs—in assembly, organizing, and expression. If serious Progressives, including opponents of Trump, want to stop this cycle of illiberalism, they have to stop demonizing the right and start training their rhetorical fire on the vandals in the street and the ideologues in the newsroom. Doing so will not only safeguard Americans’ liberties—which are critical to a free and “progressive” America as our Founding Fathers intended— it might well save lives. In the meantime, the Trump administration and the Justice Department need not only to think about how to stop the current spate of violence, but move to stop it before it gets even worse. Appeasement is not an option. I cannot imagine how to even begin a dialog with these so-called Progressives. They don’t want to talk. They think there’s nothing to talk about. I suggest we on the other side of the aisle keep our rhetoric to a minimum and show love and respect.
God bless the United States of America.
Bergeron, J. (March 27, 2015). “Why Modern Leftists are Fascists.” Return of Kings. Retrieved from: http://www.returnofkings.com/58601/why-modern-leftists-are-fascists
de Tocqueville, A. (1994). Democracy in America. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.
Orwell, G. (1948). 1984. Paris: Hatier.